When thinking about backups, we may not first think about backup performance, however, it is an important aspect of consideration with any data protection solution. Backup performance can impact both RPO and RTO values and these are extremely important when thinking about how close to current production data can be restored as well as how fast we can restore it. The more performant the backup solution, organizations are better equipped to recover from a potential disaster as well as have more aggressive backup cycles. In this post we will take a look at improving VMware backup performance with various technologies. These include the following:
- Changed Block Tracking
- LAN Free data transfer using SAN and Hot-add
- Compression and Deduplication
- WAN acceleration
- Seeding Backups for Offsite DR
Changed Block Tracking
Changed Block Tracking or CBT is a VMware technology included in the vSphere Data Protection APIs introduced in vSphere 4.X that allows for a mapping to be kept of the blocks that have changed in a VMDK file. Once changed block tracking is enabled for a virtual machine, backup solutions can perform a full backup of the virtual machine and then with each backup iteration only copy the blocks that have changed since the last backup. This allows for huge performance gains over performing a full backup of a virtual machine with each backup cycle. Changed block tracking allows for much less data to be copied, shortening backup cycles, as well as less load on both backup and production infrastructure.
LAN Free Data Transfer using SAN and Hot-Add
Lan Free data transfer allows the backup infrastructure to bypass the production network to copy backup information directly from the SAN (storage area network) connected to vSphere infrastructure. Instead of copying the data from the production network, the LAN Free mode allows communicating directly over the iSCSI, fiber channel, or NFS network to bypass load on the LAN. The backup infrastructure integrates with the storage area network. Hot Add allows for directly mounting and reading to/from virtual machine snapshots. LAN Free transfers are much quicker and efficient than copying backup data over the production network. It also alleviates any extra load on product network workloads by bypassing the LAN.
Compression and Deduplication
Various storage technologies help to improve the performance of backup runs as well as makes the most efficient use of space dedicated to VMware backups. Compression and Deduplication are the major technologies that help to make sure storage spaced used is as efficient as possible. Compression shrinks the size of data on disk. Deduplication technology ensures that there are no duplicate blocks of information that are being kept on the backup storage subsystem. If multiple copies of the same data are kept, this is quite inefficient and unneeded. Deduplication allows for keeping only one copy of the same information and referencing this single copy of data to recreate multiple sets of backups.
WAN links are generally slower and more expensive links than other links found in production infrastructure. Organizations typically want to make the most efficient use of the WAN as possible so as not to impact production connectivity. This includes network traffic related to backup or replication activity. Backups and replication can create quite a bit of strain on WAN links. Making sure that VMware backups and replicas traversing the WAN are as efficient as possible and that only the necessary information that needs copied is copied across between sites. Using a data protection solution that copies only the compressed and deduplicated blocks across the WAN allows organizations to make the most efficient use of WAN connections for backup and replication processes without impacting production network needs.
Seeding Backups for Offsite DR
Storing backups offsite such as in an offsite DR location requires an initial transfer of data be made to the offsite location. If the LAN or WAN is used to copy over the initial data for the offsite DR copy, this can take a tremendous amount of time and potentially impact production network performance. By using “seeding”, we can first use a local storage medium such as a high-density portable drive to transport the initial bulk of data to the offsite location while the incremental data transfers can be made over the LAN or WAN connection. This greatly reduces the amount of time and network bandwidth needed for the initial copy.
Choose High Performance Data Protection
Choosing the right data protection solution that is geared toward performance can help organizations be effective and efficient as well as have a high-performance VMware vSphere backup solution. Vembu BDR Suite is a modern, fully featured multi-platform data protection solution covering multiple hypervisors and technologies including VMware vSphere. Vembu BDR Suite includes the above listed technologies and many others that allow organizations to maintain a high performance data protection environment, have the least impact on production infrastructure, and have aggressive RTO and RPO times with near CDP or continuous data protection. Vembu BDR Suite also allows organizations to be cloud ready with integration with the public cloud to provide cost effective offsite DR infrastructure. Choosing a high performance solution for data protection allows organizations to have confidence in their ability to recover from disasters resulting from any number of events that bring down production infrastructure. Vembu BDR Suite is a solution that equips, prepares, and helps organizations to increase VMware backup performance and many others to achieve high performance data protection.
There are certainly technologies that increase VMware backup performance when utilized correctly. Having a high performance backup solution is key to making sure backups happen as effectively and efficiently as possible. High performance backups also help to alleviate load from production workloads including networks, and underlying storage subsystems. Vembu BDR Suite is a high performance backup solution that helps organizations meet and exceed RTO and RPO objectives and does this as efficiently as possible. Check out Vembu BDR Suite and download the free trial available to kick the tires yourself.